Tuesday, March 12, 2013

DOUG CHRISTIE, HUSBAND, FATHER, FRIEND & LAWYER - DEAD AT 66


He was a defender of Free Speech.

Christie is one of the most recognized and provocative lawyers in Canada.

Doug Christie died on Monday at Victoria's Royal Jubilee Hospital at the age of 66. “I am heart-broken to say that Doug passed away this afternoon in Victoria Hospice,” his wife Keltie Zubko announced in a public statement. She said that Doug’s family was with him and were “able to say all that was in our hearts to say before he let go of the pain and suffering to leave us with the immense gifts of his love for us and the lessons of his life.”

I had difficulty understanding why he defended the people he did. Then I met him, spoke with him, watched him within the context of his legal work done for Paul and Zabeth Bayne as they tried for four years to recover their children from the Ministry of Children and Family Development of British Columbia, and my appreciation for the man began to develop. He represented the Baynes pro bono and that benevolence spoke volumes to me. I am sure that some of his motivation derived from his Roman Catholic convictions. I liked him. I am saddened by his death. The Bayne family is together today in large part because of his dedicated assistance to their campaign for justice.

He was a tall figure, impressive in black or dark greys, characteristically clad in a stand out long tailed coat and wearing a Stetson-styled hat everywhere. He was an appealing orator, a pleasure to hear, a commander of language, brilliant, a quick-thinking good-looking man. Yet when I examine his legal career, his clients, his political convictions and aspirations, Doug Christie struck me as a fascinating man of mystery and he remains to me an enigma.

You see, I don’t know that apart from the Bayne case connection, that I personally would have sought to spend time with Doug. I might have found his views and his legal representations unpleasant. After attending law school at the University of British Columbia and graduating in 1970, Doug began his law practice. He founded and then became general counsel of the Canadian Free Speech League, which has presented its "George Orwell Award" to controversial figures including BC columnist Doug Collins, who authored an article titled Swindler's List attacking Steven Spielberg's Holocaust film Schindler's List. Christie founded and led the Western Canada Concept, a separatist party which ran in British Columbia and federally, and The Western Block Party, a right-wing federal political party advocating the separation of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba from Canadian Confederation. Christie continued to run an organization named the "Western Canada Concept" up to the time of his death. He became nationally known for defending individuals accused of Nazi war crimes or racist, anti-Semitic or neo-Nazi activity.

Wikipedia informs us that Doug first came to national attention in 1983 as the attorney for James Keegstra's, a schoolteacher, when he was fired from his teaching job and criminally charged with willfully promoting hatred by teaching students that there was a Jewish conspiracy, along with spreading other anti-Semitic opinions. That case brought him to the attention of Holocaust denier Ernst Z√ľndel who retained Christie in September 1984. Those cases led him to further defend an extensive list of clients of similar views and allegations.

Terry Long, former leader of the Aryan Nations in Canada;
Malcolm Ross of New Brunswick who, like Keegstra, was a teacher fired for anti-Semitic activity;
• Three alleged leaders of the Ku Klux Klan in Manitoba;
• Rudy Stanko of the World Church of the Creator;
• Tony McAleer after he was charged with broadcasting hate speech over the phone and online;
John Ross Taylor of the Western Guard Party and Aryan Nations;
Imre Finta who was alleged to be a Nazi war criminal and collaborator (see R. v. Finta);
Doug Collins, a late newspaper columnist brought before the British Columbia Human Rights Commission for anti-Semitic and racist comments;
Paul Fromm, head of the far-right "Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform" and "Canadians for Freedom of Expression", and participant in neo-Nazi and racist gatherings, who was fired from his job as a teacher for his political activity;
• Lady Jane Birdwood, a British follower of Oswald Mosley and distributor of hate propaganda;
Wolfgang Droege of the Heritage Front;
David Ahenakew, who acknowledged making anti-Semitic comments in a 2002 interview with the Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Controversy swirled about him because of these associations but Christie’s sense of justice demanded that he offer freedom of speech to even perceived enemies if you hoped to preserve free speech for yourself. But he suffered for his role in these cases, was accused of being a right-wing extremist, a Nazi, an anti-Semite, all of which he regarded as smear words which he claimed were inaccurate and unfair. Christie has always been careful not to publicly support the views of his clients, insisting his cases were about protecting the right to free speech. Windows in his home were broken until he boarded them shut. He described himself as ’Canada’s most prolific defender of free speech.“ ”It was principles of freedom that caused me to step off the beaten path,” wrote Christie.

 That having been said, I respected him and I liked him. 
Douglas Hewson "Doug" Christie, Jr. (April 1946 - March 11, 2013), dead at age 66.

Other Sources:
DougChristie’s web page
TimesColonist
NationalPost
VancouverSun


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